In an update to our previous story, VHN has learned the Vegas Golden Knights reverse retro jersey will be available on November 16. Vegas fans have plenty of options to stuff stockings just in time for the holidays after revealing a gold third jersey and the brand-new Henderson Silver Knights home and road uniforms for the team’s inaugural season in 2020-21.
In a tweet earlier today in conjunction with Adidas, the Vegas Golden Knights reverse retro jersey was teased. Previously Adidas had said the jerseys would be coming in November, and it appears the reveal is happening today or tomorrow.
Adidas also had a tweet on its own twitter showing all the reverse retro jerseys in a quick animated slide show. All looks at the RR jerseys are from behind, with no features except two primary colors shown. All jerseys in the animation appear to have the same striping, which goes against earlier details saying the RR jersey was expected to be an homage to the Las Vegas Thunder. Whether the animation’s depiction of the striping is accurate we can’t be sure.
One major clue: the number on the back of the jersey in each team’s tweet references the year to which the jersey throws it back. The Vegas jersey carries the number 95, smack dab in the middle of the IHL wheelhouse. The 1994-95 and 1995-96 Thunder lost in the Conference Final both years. The 95-96 team was Southwest Division champions.
What we do know is that indeed the jersey will be red, and it will feature primarily gold accents. Other speculation has the jersey featuring the secondary logo as the crest, the primary logo as a shoulder patch, and “v” shaped stripes as indicated by the old Thunder uniforms.
We should know in less than 24 hours what the Golden Knights reverse retro jersey will look like.
Special note for hockey history nuts: Carolina’s jersey will be a Whalers-inspired throwback. Colorado’s number is 79, clearly a throwback to the Quebec Nordiques first season in the NHL. Edmonton and Winnipeg are also a throwback to its first NHL season of 1979. Toronto goes back to 1970, but there’s one jersey I can’t find the individual tweet for: the first one shown is black and red with the number 40 on it. My guess given the colors is Chicago, but the Black Hawks (as it was spelled then) weren’t particularly good then making it an odd choice if true.
Golden Knights Prospects Update
In any year that’s not 2020, updating the Vegas Golden Knights prospects would be a lengthy endeavor. Perhaps I’d even split it into three parts by position.
This year is different. Several leagues are not playing. We still don’t even know if they’ll actually play, regardless of whether a start date has been announced or not. As of right now, the AHL, ECHL, OHL and WHL are planning to play but have not started. The QMJHL has started playing with mixed results, as some teams have played double-digit games while others sit at three or four because of COVID-19 pauses. Europe has done a little better but it’s a much smaller geographic spread for everyone except the KHL.
With that as the backdrop, it’s a little easier to keep an eye on Golden Knights prospects. That is, if there’s anything to report.
Brisson was the top choice for Vegas (#29 overall) in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. He’s a freshman at Michigan this year and already has four points (1-3-4) in four games. He had a power play goal and an assist to help the Wolverines beat Wisconsin 5-2 on November 19 last week. All four of Brisson’s points have come on the power play to help UM start the season at 37.5% with the man advantage.
Kallionkieli is getting to play games after being loaned to HIFK’s U-20 squad. The 19-year-old speedster has a goal and five points in nine games so far this year. One of the few Golden Knights prospects to have a chance to play significant games before 2021.
The 20-year-old center remains unsigned by Vegas after being drafted in the second round back in 2018. This year with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL, he’s posted 5-5-10 in 24 games so far. Morozov has yet to play outside of Russia and it looks like that trend may continue.
Dorofeyev has seen action at three different levels with Chelyabinsk this season including one game in the KHL with Traktor. He, like countryman Morozov, remains unsigned by the VGK.
Donovan is entering his second season with the University of Wisconsin, seeing action in five games so far. He has a pair of goals and an assist as the Badgers have played more games (six) than any other college in NCAA DI. Donovan, a 2019 fourth round pick, remains unsigned.
Campoli was a sixth round pick in 2017, and remains unsigned. As a junior this year at Clarkson, he’s appeared in one game with no points or PIMs.
The unsigned 2018 fifth round pick of the Golden Knights has a goal and four points in just two games with Bowling Green State University this season. Don’t get too excited, those games were against the D III Adrian Bulldogs.
Marushev has already played 18 games between AK Bars Kazan in the KHL and Bars Kazan in the VHL, posting a goal and four points total. Although 21, Marushev is a seventh round pick from this year’s draft.
The 23-year-old Latvian hasn’t skated in North America since 2017-18 with the Toronto Marlies and Orlando Solar Bears. This year in the KHL with Riga he has 3-5-8 in 17 games.
If you’re following hockey being played in North America right now, you’re probably watching the QMJHL and Lukas Cormier. He set a torrid pace to start the season and was named QMJHL Defenseman of the Month for October. He continues to rip it up in the high-scoring league, with seven goals and 21 points in just 13 games for the Charlottetown Islanders. Cormier looks like a steal by Vegas at #68 overall (R3) in this year’s draft.
Ellis managed to get one game in with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers with one assist so far. The USHL has tried to play starting November 5, but has met with the same mixed results as the QMJHL. Three teams have played five games, Des Moines and Team USA have played one. The sixth-round pick by Vegas in this year’s NHL Entry Draft will play at UMass next season.
Ahac has played one game with Ohio State in the Big Ten. Again, college hockey is trying to play with mixed results. Don’t expect too much in the way of action here either.
Patera is getting some game action in with Motor Ceske Budejovice on loan. In five appearances he’s posted a 1.82 GAA and .937 save percentage, yet is only 1-3-0 on the season. Looks like run support is a little lacking, but otherwise excellent numbers.
A fifth-round pick by the VGK at this year’s draft, Vikman has been playing games in Sweden with AIK’s J20 Nationell club. He’s 5-4-0 with a 4.10 GAA and an .851 save percentage. Don’t let those numbers spook you, as previously he has shown better. Hard to really gauge what kind of team he’s on or competition he’s facing, but for a goalie any experience is good.
For the most part, if you don’t see them mentioned here they’re either not playing or so far off the radar they might be at the North Pole with Santa and his helpers. Seriously, it might be a while until several Golden Knights prospects get it going if they do at all. Expect continued shutdowns of sports by regions at various times, depending on the ebb and flow of the virus and until we are able to get a vaccine in widespread circulation.
How Long Will Fleury Remain Happy Behind Lehner?
It’s happened to him before. Marc-Andre Fleury has been cast aside in favor of a younger goaltender, this time Robin Lehner. Last time in Pittsburgh, it was Matt Murray. But the Penguins knew Fleury was going to be an attractive target in the upcoming expansion draft and held onto him, leading to his selection by the Vegas Golden Knights. Will the Knights now do the same? Can they actually play the entire 2020-21 season with Fleury and Lehner wedged into the goal crease?
In short – how long will Marc-Andre Fleury remain happy behind Robin Lehner?
We know there’s discontent here. Your agent doesn’t tweet out a photo of you with a sword running through your back bearing the name of your head coach without your knowledge and/or consent.
Want proof? If your agent were to issue that type of statement and it really upset you, you’d change agents. Plus Fleury has been with Allan Walsh for so long it’s hard to imagine those two not being in lockstep on messaging. But as much as Fleury is going to say and do the right things, that’s why you have an agent. He or she is able to deliver messages to management without it being personal. It also allows what the law calls plausible deniability.
Just reading between the lines, it appears Fleury has not been happy with the coaching change as it pertains to his playing time. What athlete is ever happy about losing a starting gig? But politics aren’t the only thing at play here.
Let’s start with the most obvious and most talked-about elephant in the room. Marc-Andre Fleury is slated to be the backup this season. That wouldn’t be an issue if Fleury didn’t make a whopping $7M a year for the next two years. But that salary could easily net you three more players (or more) of an NHL caliber. Probably even one really good one and a couple of depth guys.
Heck, you could even get an NHL-caliber backup in that role behind Lehner if you’re not comfortable with Oscar Dansk yet. Given that Dansk was the player they chose to introduce the new Henderson Silver Knights jerseys, that tells me they see him as a Henderson fixture in year one.
But wait, didn’t VGK GM Kelly McCrimmon already say the team’s goaltenders moving forward are Fleury and Lehner? And isn’t Lehner having shoulder surgery?
Yes to both. But there’s also more to both.
There’s Only One Net… and More Money
It appears that Vegas is hedging its bets here. Clearly Lehner is the favored son over Fleury for head coach Pete DeBoer. But while McCrimmon said that Lehner should be ready for the start of training camp off his shoulder surgery, what happens if he’s not? Having Marc-Andre Fleury on the roster solves the problem. He’s a capable starter and fan favorite. Stashing Lehner on LTIR saves you $5M in cap room and allows you to start the season with a cushion. It also gives you time to shop Fleury. Teams will find that the solution they signed isn’t working, or an injury derails a team’s plans. Things happen, and if Fleury could end up in a situation where a team needs a starter and could flip another asset back to the VGK so much the better.
If Lehner is healthy enough to start the season and Fleury is second fiddle, regardless of what McCrimmon says it’s not a good situation for the team to have $12M tied up in its goaltenders. In fact, that $7M cap hit ties Fleury for the fourth-highest hit in the league with Tuukka Rask. Lehner’s $5M hit ties for 13th overall in the league. While it’s not quite the Montreal Canadiens $14.85M cap hit between Carey Price and Jake Allen, the Habs also have only one player making more than $5.5M on his cap hit (Shea Weber).
Without getting into the weeds here, it’s too much money in goalies. Especially considering Fleury makes more than every starting goalie in the league not named Price, Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy or Sergei Bobrovsky.
Back In The Day
If we look back at the situation when Fleury was in Pittsburgh, he sat behind Murray for over a year. Make no mistake, Fleury will put the team first and be a good citizen. He says and does the right things. Fleury only had two appearances (one start) in the 2016 Playoffs when Murray became a household name and led the Pens to victory out of nowhere. Yet when he was called upon to take the reins back from Murray in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he did an incredible job until Murray’s return in the middle of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators.
In fact, if you go back and read this article from the start of the 2017 playoffs without context, you could be forgiven if you imagined it was written recently. Familiar themes from last year: a rough start to the season, losing his starting job, teammates still love him, people say they never lost confidence in his ability.
From the article:
“In the month of March, we played 16 games in 31 days,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We relied on both of them through that process. The fact we were able to share [goaltending] duties really helped our team in that condensed schedule down the stretch. Marc was a big part of that. He’s a great goaltender. He’s a terrific kid, he’s a great competitor, he’s a good pro. He’s a great teammate.”
Replace Sullivan with Pete DeBoer. Or McCrimmon. Or anyone on the Golden Knights staff.
Fleury played 15 games, won nine, and ended up earning his third Stanley Cup – but was a spectator for the Final against Nashville.
They couldn’t have done it without him.
Now Vegas finds itself in fantastic-yet-terrible situation of having two top shelf starters. The contract given to Lehner clearly indicates he’s the man for the VGK going forward. Will the financial gap be a cause of friction? How much of an issue will playing time become?
We know that Fleury is the man while Lehner recovers from shoulder surgery, however long that may be. It doesn’t make sense to move Fleury when you might need him to carry the load initially. And as the 2017 Penguins found, he can be an invaluable insurance policy. So it makes sense the Golden Knights will say they want to keep both players. Plus, the Seattle Kraken will be making selections in the expansion draft and if Vegas can somehow afford to keep him all season Fleury might once again be starting a new franchise.
But Fleury will be 36 when this season begins. His contract has two seasons left on it, and after that he’s clearly due for a salary reduction. This off-season hasn’t been kind to older goalies, with names like Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson and Ryan Miller wondering if they’ll play another NHL game. Expect that trend to continue in the cap crunched world. Fleury does have a leg up in that he has more Cups than those three put together. And he seems to be finding ways to defy everyone just when it appears his game is going to drop off for good. Finally, Fleury sits on 466 career wins and if he’s going to get to 500 he has to play games.
History tells us Fleury will go along with things and put on a happy face regardless of how he feels personally. The real question is how long it lasts.
Tom’s Daily: Expanded NHL/NHLPA Return; The Sad Story of Todd Ewen Cont’d
Tom’s Daily: Vegas Golden Knights holiday charity initiatives in full swing; NHL and NHLPA expand return to play committees; Todd Ewen’s widow Kelli fighting with NHL over iPhone content.
Vegas Golden Knights
The team announced plans around its holiday toy drive (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tomorrow is also the last day for the team’s canned food drive. (VGK)
The Seattle Kraken are still full speed ahead as they approach the team’s debut. It looks like several team facilities will be coming online ahead of schedule. (NHL.com)
The sad continuing story of the late Todd Ewen now includes his widow Kelli and the NHL fighting for control over text messages from his iPhone. The messages and data may play a key role in her lawsuit against the league. (TSN)
Interstate hockey has been suspended in New England and New Jersey until at least 2021. (WMUR)
That’s it for Tom’s Daily, but in case you missed it, Golden Knights prospect Lukas Cormier is off to a dominant start in the QMJHL.